Vince Russo On Challenges Facing TNA, Says Their Biggest Problems Are “Outside” The Ring
Vince Russo has a new blog up on his official website that talks about what he thinks TNA’s real challenges are. Russo believes TNA’s biggest problems are outside of the ring. Here’s part of what he wrote:
“From a philosophical view, I think both TNA and the WWE my be a bit “off” when it comes to the way they present their product in 2014 – that’s MY opinion. To me, it’s not “really” about the characters, or the storylines, or the in-ring wrestling – all of those things can be changed by next week – no big deal. To me, it’s about vision and direction. The “Attitude Era” was a vision, and a direction. Can today’s vision, or direction, really be described by either wrestling company as I write this? WHAT is their product and where do they see it going. However, even that is subjective. Even though I believe the product should go a certain way, who knows where the leaders of those companies feel the product should head? Because of who they are, and what they’ve experienced – they have different views and ideas. Nobody’s “right”, or “wrong”, it’s just their VIEW.
That’s why I like talking about FACTS. The FACTS are all that really matter. You hated me at WWE, WCW, and TNA – great, that’s your opinion – but – what do the FACTS say about my legacy? If we looked at all three companies and their numbers prior to me coming in – then leaving – what will they tell you? That’s really all that matters to me.
In my opinion, having worked there, what’s hindering TNA more than anything right now, are major factors that lay “outside” the ring. Again, the creative is all subjected, and can be adjusted — if need be – but the financials — the costs to operate — are FACTUAL, much like TV numbers.
For starters, and I don’t need to tell anybody this, including the brass at TNA — trust me, they know — the environment inside the “Impact Zone” is not ideal for what TNA is attempting to put across your TV screen every week. Universal Studios is a “tourist” attraction, so primarily, TNA is drawing “tourists” to watch IMPACT, not die-hard “wrestling fans”. The truth is, many of those people attending might just be wanting to get out from under the scorching Florida sun. As you know, attendance to IMPACT is free, so there is no cost if you’re just looking to stay in the shade for a few hours. But, this isn’t anything that anybody doesn’t know. We all see it every Thursday night. But, no one knows first hand how much an audience can affect your show than me.
You see, when you write a wrestling show, you’re writing it knowing that the fans “cheer” here, the fans “boo” there — that’s how you write any wrestling show. Well, at Universal, you’re not always getting the response your writing for, simply because many of your customers are simple not die-hard wrestling fans. Also, add to that, the performers get FUELED by you — the fans. The less “true” wrestling fans rooting you on — less gas in the tank. That’s just human nature. Unfortunately, in getting back to the facts, at this point in their business plan – Universal Studios is the best route for TNA to take. Are they aware of all the problems? They certainly are, and there is no doubt in my mind that if they had the ability right now to change that – they would – simply because – why wouldn’t they?
But, aside from the lackluster, vacationing crowds, I think there is a much bigger problem that TNA is faced to deal with every week. And, this is the problem that very few fans watching from home either realize, or understand. THE SCHEDULING. Again, due to the FACTS – the FINANCIALS – TNA works under a rigorous schedule that not many fans are aware of. In order to work within their current budget, TNA is forced to shoot MULTIPLE shows, or parts of shows, per night. Unlike the WWE, who has the luxury to just shoot one show – be it three hours – in one night, TNA is usually filming at least a show AND A HALF during that same time. Again, having been a part of it, this leads to numerous problems that have a diverse effect on the end product.
For starters – you have to write accordingly. In other words, many times the writers can’t write their “dream” show, because they have to look at how many times EY wrestled in one night, or, how many in-rings did MVP have. They have to adjust to not wear the performers out on a nightly basis, but also to protect the audience response — whatever there is — from sending a guy out through the curtain too many times. So from the beginning — the writing is being affected to compensate for the work schedule. Again — it is what is it, and they are all working as hard as they can to make it “work” providing the circumstances.
Then, of course you have the performance of the boys. If they have to wrestle twice in one night — that second match just may not be as good as the first — no matter how hard they try. Why do you think that when a team plays a double-header in baseball, very, very few players play BOTH GAMES. The same goes with their mic work. How much verbiage can you ask any human being to become familiar with in one night? The first promo is always going to be better than the second. Again, you’re dealing with wrestlers, not actors, and human beings, not machines. This problem lingers over to the backstage pre-tapes, where the talent and producers, and writers are getting content for not just ONE show, but maybe two, or three. I know that there were nights in the Impact show where I would shoot 30 — yes, THIRTY — pre-tapes from morning until we went back to the hotel at night.
And here’s something else that NOBODY has ever realized, or put into consideration. Being that you are already asking the audience to stay for a minimum of at least three hours a night, in an effort to move the show along as quickly as you can — you don’t have the option of playing the pre-tapes to the crowd — that were shot to build the match! Therefore, on many occasions, the audience is seeing what they view as a “cold match”, when on TV, that same match has been built up for two hours! In other words, the response is going to be far inferior than what it should have been had you had the luxury time you needed to correctly tell your story.
And lastly–I’m not going to even get into what happens when the star of your show gets hurt in show one, day one, and you have him booked in THE major angle of the next two shows that are going to be shot over the next three days. Looks like the writers aren’t going to get a good night’s sleep tonight.
All these issues are what TNA has to deal with on a weekly basis in order to make their company successful from a financial viewpoint which is all that really matters. Are there solutions to these problems? Of course there are . . . in time. Look, TNA has only been around for 10 years – many people forget that. Vince McMahon Sr. had the WWWF on TV in 1955, TWENTY-SEVEN years before he even handed it over to Vince. Under Vince, it’s been another THIRTY-TWO YEARS on the boob tube, that’s FIFTY-FIVE years of television experience – and time for the WWE. Does anyone think that “back in the day”, Vince Sr. wasn’t faced with the same challenges that TNA is today?
That’s why, every time I view the TNA product – I’m viewing it with all things in mind. I understand fully what it’s taking them to produce that wrestling show. And – most importantly – I GREATLY appreciate their efforts. I’ve said many times, if you spoke to any Hollywood writer, or Hollywood producer, and explained to them the QUANTITY of product that TNA was churning out, and the QUALITY they were achieving in a minimal amount of time – they would accuse you of LYING, saying that’s physically and mentally impossible. But guess what – it’s not — because they are doing it every week.
All the reasons listed above is WHY I have all the respect for every one involved in TNA. From the very top of the food chain, to the wrestlers, to the writers, producers, everybody involved in television production and all the way down to Angela the caterer. Do you know how hungry those guys get putting in so many hours a day?!!! It’s the work ethic, working as hard as you possibly can on that third, or fourth show, just like it was the first. It says a lot about everybody in that company and it’s leadership. They are all working as hard as they can to deliver the best product that they are capable of, under conditions that make their jobs extremely difficult.
So, the next time you see a missed spot, or a flubbed line on IMPACT, maybe you’ll look at it a bit more differently now. I know I do. And, I know that I’m rooting for TNA to continue to fight through!!! All things in life take time to become great — and it’s only those who possess the will of perseverance–that ever get to witness their labor of hard work come to fruition!”